For students living with mental illness, getting through the day can seem like an overwhelming task —let alone the entire semester.
The illness could be a cacophony of options, but the most prevalent suffered are: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide and addiction.
These illnesses are not physically visible and, therefore, stigmatized as “not real” or “made-up.”
According to a study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four college students have a diagnosable and — ultimately treatable — mental illness. 40 percent do not seek help, 80 percent feel overwhelmed by their activities and half have suffered anxiety that has caused them to struggle in school.
These statistics are not acceptable.
I am, by no means, a mental health expert.
As I enter my fourth year at Auburn and first year of graduate school, I find myself improved but still facing the same mental health concerns that I did during my first semester here. I don’t want any other members of the Auburn Family to feel alone, hopeless or aimless.
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Have a routine and stick to it. A routine sets the foundational structure of how you live your life.
Waking up at the same time each morning, designating specific times to go to class or to study and ending each night with the same routine at roughly the same time.
You are allowed to stray from your routine on weekends and on special occasions, but having a routine sets a baseline to return to afterward.
This can be difficult to do when you are severely anxious or depressed, but it will make you feel better afterward.
Humans are social creatures and our health depends on engaging with others.
Try to ask the student sitting next to you if they’re having a good day or what they thought of the last test.
Good influences help elevate our moods while poor influences cause our mood to plummet. Furthermore, ensure the people you spend your time with are contributing and not detracting from your wellbeing.
Listen to your self care needs.
Sometimes you just need to be alone to recharge. If you need time to yourself, don’t hesitate to take it.
It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. Take a bath, watch your favorite TV show, eat your favorite food, go on a walk, paint your nails, etc. In the words of Tom Haverford, “Treat yo-self.”
Treat your body well. There’s a reason our parents to our grandmothers to our doctors have been pounding this into our heads for as long as we can remember. Fill your body with the proper nutrients and healthy food. Exercise regularly and build strength.
Everything is fine in moderation.
So, it’s okay every now and then to eat that slice of cake or that cookie when you want it.
Your body is your only vessel during this life and the home of your mind.
Treat it with love and respect.
Ask for help when you need it.
While your friends care about you and want the best for you, they are not mental health professionals.
Friends are helpful, but they cannot treat your mental illness.
Try to consult more than one resource when you believe you could be suffering from a mental illness.
No one has to fight these battles alone.
There are numerous on-site resources as well as outreach provided by Student Counseling Services such as screenings, animal assisted therapy, the “Zen Den,” sexual assault services, an eating concerns team, among many others.
Additionally, there is an entire site dedicated to detailing “while you wait” resources for students who cannot get into individual or group counseling immediately.
Details of each these programs and more can be found on the SCS website.
Each and every one of us have a brain and a body that only we are the stewards of. Just as mistreating our bodies can lead to illness, so can mistreatment of our minds.
That’s why, as George Petrie said, “I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid.”
The views expressed in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Auburn Plainsman.
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